Real Life Stories

Alexis Cathie photo

Alexis Cathie

Pittsburgh, PA

Gospel singer

Cornea recipient

Community Health Center Real Stories

As a teenager, I remember always having to wear glasses or contact lenses to improve my vision. It wasn’t until I got to college that I noticed I needed to get my eyes checked and have my prescription adjusted more often than usual. My doctor advised me that my eyes, specifically my corneas, had changed their shape and become more cone-shaped rather than rounded. After some testing, they diagnosed this change as keratoconus.

At the time, I was about 20 years old, and the doctors felt that my condition wasn’t severe, so I didn’t need a transplant. I did a little research on my condition and noticed that most people who developed keratoconus in their teenage years typically won’t need a transplant until they are well into their thirties or even later. After discovering this, I figured my case would be similar to what was considered the norm, but it wasn’t. Within three to four years, my eyesight had changed drastically in my right eye. I tried to get a stronger prescription in the glasses I wore, and I stopped wearing contacts because it scarred the tissue in my eyes, but these changes only seemed to work for awhile. The doctor then tried to fit me for a gas permeable lens, but the lens wouldn’t fit in my eye because of how cone-shaped it had become. At that time, my doctor told me that my only option was to have a corneal transplant.

I remember when I was put on the transplant list in March 2011 and wondered what it would be like to see clearly. After about four months, I received a call that a possible donor was found. What was a possibility on that day soon became a reality. On July 12, 2011, I received my corneal transplant and couldn’t have been happier. I’ve experienced quite a bit of emotions, but I remember being extremely grateful to have had someone make the decision to be a donor. I was thankful that someone made the selfless decision to change another person’s life. And I was glad that I was that person.

I’m a gospel singer, and since the transplant, I’ve had the opportunity to share my talents and gifts with many, singing background for various artists such as Sunday Best’s Joshua Rodgers, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Marvin Sapp, Shirley Murdock, Canton Jones, Karen Clark Sheard and many more. I’m seeing my dreams come true as a background singer for a national recording artist.

I went from only being able to see a colored blur to being able to see better than I ever have. This transplant has given me such a boost. I’m a major advocate for organ donation. If there was one thing that I could encourage people to do after this experience, it would be to make the choice to be a donor. Let’s all make that simple choice to give to another person what I was given: a second lease on life, the gift of life.


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